Jet lag is simply a part of life in the NBA. The 82-game regular season schedule forces teams to criss-cross the country on a regular basis. Players can forget what city they’re in, much less the time zone.
But at least one team is fighting back against jet lag. The Oregonian reports that the Portland Trail Blazers are taking advice from a sleep doctor. It seems to be paying off.
Last season the Blazers were 7-14 in games that were played two or more time zones away. So far this season they are 7-2 in those games. Overall the Blazers are 22-14 and in second place in the Northwest Division.
The team is changing flight and practice schedules to let players get more sleep. Players also are encouraged to maintain a consistent sleep-wake pattern.
When playing on the East Coast, the Blazers don’t try to adapt to the new time zone. Instead they keep their body clocks set to a West Coast schedule. So a player who goes to bed at 1 a.m. in Portland will stay up until 4 a.m. in Orlando.
The Blazers will apply their new sleep strategy this week during another four-game trip east. It begins this evening with a game in the Central time zone against the Bulls.
Update (1/13/09): Blazers 109, Bulls 95
Update (1/14/09): 76ers 100, Blazers 79
Update (1/16/09): Blazers 105, Nets 99
Update (1/17/09): Bobcats 102, Blazers 97